Friday, August 25, 2006

Identification by Louis Evan Palmer

ID cards
will soon
be a thing
of the past

The debates and warnings and fears surrounding ID cards erupt regularly; sometimes triggered by government ruminations about a unique key to be used; sometimes, it's occasioned by an unholy combination of identifying factors - picture, number, description - or, picture, medical data, personal statistics.

The new truly scary kid on the block, the implanted chip, is something which no-one would have imagined as plausible even twenty years ago.

A wave of indignation and trepidation accompanies these speculations or trial balloons but, like the tide, they recede. Thankfully, alot of people are concerned.

There is a positive side to easy & reliable ID - just as many crimes are aided by inadequate ID as are aided by ubitiquous ID.

The privacy requirement continues to be only permitting authorized access to this data and ensuring it is only for authorized purposes. Simple to state and to understand but extremely difficult to implement and safeguard.

Sooner than we think biometrics will become so sophisticated that a Star Trek-like scanner will be available and it will be able to instantly identify us. It will be linkable to other databases that detail various facets of our lives, some more private than others, but all available to the persons who have, or can arrange, access.

Scanners, smart cards, RFIDs, implants and other to-be-determined devices will add to the available means of identifying and tracking individuals. That's a given. The question, as always, will be how to ensure that the information is protected and only used for authorized purposes by authorized persons.

There will, of course, be ways around any new identification techniques which will be increasingly out of the reach of ordinary citizens. These circumventions will be evident more in the realm of criminal syndicates and corporations and secret organizations both inside and outside the government. To the extent those techniques are used, the anticipated benefits of fast identification will be diminished. We could end up worse off - innocent citizens completely exposed and exploitable, offenders with more power and impunity.

However, as with much of what the swirling powers do, it will be used selectively and, in that way, it will create the illusion that things are on the up and up. It's damned effective.

Massive spying operations may not be a thing of the past but the necessary enforcement is on a greatly reduced scale compared to the vast apparatus put in place in the old USSR and its satellites.. unless and until, the resistance becomes so massive that the response must be equally massive. Then the so-called "free world" will be into internment camps and quick, reliable identification.

However, for now, the focus on trying to stop using this or that piece of data ; or, on not calling it a national ID; or, on not using some other card, like a driver's license, as one; is misguided. We must assume that this will all happen and devise ways and means of circumscribing it and controlling it and policing it.

If our whole defense is in stopping it then when it happens whether due to incredible advances in technology or unstoppable events or propaganda (catapulted or otherwise) then we have nothing.. then we are fighting a rear-guard action, then we are setting ourselves up for heavy losses and, potentially, defeat.

Identification, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer


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